Get your wife some chickens


#1

Hey Subdood, Get Mrs Dood some chickens. Many great benefits to you.
-They will give her something to do that isn’t named you.
-Fresh eggs are great…yummy!!
-There is no better fertilizer than chicken poop or the chickens themselves.
-They’re easy, If I can do it, any one can.
-As long as they are protected from predators/wind/rain/snow, cold hasn’t hurt mine.
Layers and meat birds are super easy, water, feed, and minor protection from the elements and you’re set. Run a drop cord down there for a nite light and water heater. the light keeps them laying through the winter and the heater keeps the founts from freezing. Neighbors are happy to feed and water for us, we give them that days eggs. The manure is a gold mine for fertilizer.
We use a variety called Production Reds, a bigger bird than the hybrids but more winter hardy. Use more feed, lay a few less eggs but have survived -20 w/o difficulty. We have 60 and they do well in a 10x15 coop, free range. No roosters except for meat.
You need to kill predators. Raccoons, skunks, dogs, coyotes; we trap, poison, shoot and warn the neighbors that we do.
If chickens weren’t so scared, chicken, they’d be called stupids, really dumb animals but funny too.
I don’t make any money on the eggs, but pay for feed.


#2

Thanks @Chikn! Wow, 60 boids? That’s a lot of eggs! I don’t think we’d need that many chickens, maybe a dozen or two at the most.

My wife knows more aboot them, since she grew up with them and other critters on this farm. I’d defer to her on what breed to get, but I do know she said no Leghorn’s, as they can be aggressive. Folks around here seem to like Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds.

What do you run in costs per month? I imagine they’d use more feed in winter, since they have less grass and bugs to eat, right?

So, how many eggs do y’all go thru a day? I’d think you’d get tired of them eventually.

Yeah, I know about the manure, my aunt and uncle ran a big chicken farm for a few years and would supply my Mom with all the poop she could use for her flowers.

Thanks again for the thread, maybe others can contribute some advice and experiences with the birds.


#3

My chickens love to eat up the peach and apple drops. I try to pick up the good drops for myself before I set them loose in the yard in the afternoons. We feed them sweet corn that has matured too much, It’s fun to watch them pick at it in their coop - just shuck it and leave the husks attached, sending the cob through the chainlink fence. The husk holds the corn off the ground in the fence for them to eat.

They eat up all the ticks in the yard for us, but will make a mess of decks and flower beds. Just be ready for those predators as they do show up during specific times but also randomly. Let the chickens out in the yard but be on high alert to deal with the predator issues. The birds will return to the coop at dusk.


#4

Production reds are a selection of RIR. We have one buff, mean critter, you don’t reach under her as she’ll draw blood.
I have ready buyers for every egg I can produce. I go through spurts with eggs, on and off. We use all the bad shell eggs, sponge cake is a familiar dessert along with making mousse out of everything.


#5

3 French Hens?


#6

I told my wife when she got home from sub teaching today about this subject, and she is all for it. She said she wanted them when we got here two years ago.

Do you let them roam in your veggie gardens, to keep the bugs at bay? She said to keep them out of the tomato patch as they’ll peck at the fruit.

@Chikn, you saw @Levers101’s post about it being about -20 in your area this weekend. Are you taking any extra precautions for your chickens?

Like I told Phil in another post, I think it would be worth getting some just for the comedic value of watching them carry on. My wife made the mistake of showing me her impersonations of various chicken antics, with sounds and body movements they make. Like what they do when they’re happy looking for bugs, or when they get defensive. It makes for great times at various get-togethers…


#7

Hey Sub, glad to hear you’re considering the chicken project. A couple of things…

I did not mean to suggest in my reply in the other thread, that you can raise/hatch chicks in an unheated coop in zone 5 in the winter. But adult hens and roosters will do OK without heat. I have done it both ways, and now keep a small (100W) heat lamp in there on a thermostat that comes on at 20F. But I know many here who do it with no heat.

Hatching/raising chicks will take considerably more heat and protection, at least at the start. You can let the hens do it themselves (if you have broody breed that has an interest), or you can jump in and handle it. The hens will likely choose to do it in warmer spring weather (not a bad idea really). Typically you’d get chicks a few days old from a farm store (or mail order), put them in an open box (to keep them out a drafts) with a heat lamp, food and water and grow them up for a while indoors in a protected area before moving them outside. Most places here have lots of breeds to choose from every spring.

Do be very careful about predators. I know people who had let the hens out and went in the house for a few seconds to get the phone and a fox grabbed a couple while they were gone. A hungry predator is very patient and resourceful.


#8

go for it sub. The way chicken work in the garden is, you have a summer garden, and you let them in after first frost and the growing season is over. You can let them in before you plant in spring, too. But during the growing season they have to be elsewhere. if you have a fall garden it works the same, let them in when only the weeds are growing. To them a dandelion is as good as asparagus to us, so we both win.


#9

My chickens aren’t the best garden companions. They dig around in my newly planted beds, eat lettuce and tomatoes, and are hard to evict from the garden when they get in there. Ducks are more garden friendly, still must wait until the garden plants mature a bit and watch out because they also like the lettuce and particularly like snow pea seedlings (Argh!). When I am done with the garden in the fall, I mow/till it and will then release the chickens in there. This is when they eat lots of bugs and weed seed without causing problems. They can be lured into and out of areas with cracked corn and kitchen treats such as leftover red meat and fish. I call it “chicken football” when one chicken grabs a prize piece of red meat and takes off running. The yard lines and endzone are pictured in my mind as the others chase, grab the prize and head in the other direction.


#10

@Chikn, and others in your area on here who have chickens: how are y’all preparing your birds for this bitter cold? Just let them endure it, or give them a bit of supplemental heat? It’s supposed to be about 15 tonight and abt 7 tomorrow night, but that’s supposed the worst of it for the next week or so.


#11

To prepare, I closed the door to the coop and turned the fount heaters on so the water doesn’t freeze. They fluff up their feathers and stay warm. When it gets well below zero, combs will freeze on the tips but they seem to regrow those in the spring. We’ll have 0 tonight. You need the right breeds for cold weather, I think as a group they are called heavies.
I’ve always got my chicks from Murray McMurray. They’ve got a nice catalog along with others. Chicks ship well as long as there are enough birds to keep them warm. Reserve them early, shipping dates fill fast.


#12

I owned chickens since I was a kid. Predators were really bad at my old home place so it was a constant battle. Leghorn roosters are mean but my rooster ate catfood out of my hand when I was a kid. They are back floggers and try and sneak up on you. White Leghorn hens are the best layers. Dekalb hybrid hens were equal to leghorns as layers. I knew a family who raised white leghorn roosters to eat. The guy that raised those leghorns sometimes had cuts on his face or ears from one of the back floggers nailing him while he was feeding or watering them. They get much meaner as they age. I heated my coop with a 250 watt light bulb. I took my chickens hot water twice a day in bad weather to give them some heat inside their bodies. I kept a foot of hay on the floor to keep their feet warm and when I cleaned the chicken house it was much easier. I used a self feeder I built. Stored a few hundred pounds of grain for the chickens which made caring for them easier.


Chicken manure as an orchard and garden fertilizer
#13

Don’t think I’ve heard of getting chicks thru the mail. A big seller around here is a farm supply store called Southern States, they seem to have a nice variety, but they do go fast. I’ve also seen them at Tractor Supply, but not a lot of varieties to pick from. Some folks around here also sell them.

Do they lay when it gets this cold? I would imagine some but not as much in the summer.


#14

Yikes, those Leghorn’s sound nasty, based on your and my wife’s comments on them. Guess we’ll pass on them. My wife has an aversion to birds, it might have been her encounters with Leghorns while a youngster that started it. But, I will say she does know how to process a chicken, our neighbors have given us some, and she can gut and pluck them.

I couldn’t tell for sure from your post, but do you have any chickens now?


#15

yes, in this weather the problem is the drinking water, which they badly need. and there are almost as many solutions as there as chicken owners. I used to have a seedling mat under an aluminum oven tray. Without electricity in the coop it is tough to give them liquid water with this kind of weather.


#16

Thanks for the garden info, I’ll keep that in mind. I don’t know how I can keep them out of all my plots, we usually have about 4 or 5 plots for veggies. I think I’ve come up with a system to keep deer (my main intruders) out pretty well, but the chickens might be another issue.

I got a LOL of your “chicken football” comment- do they chase the one with the meat, and tackle them, and then run the other way? Like I said, who needs TV when you can watch the chickens for fun?


#17

Thanks, @Chikn for the McMurray info, I looked at their site, and might consider them. I’m kinda surprised they could ship live animals across state lines, but I don’t know that much about them.

Here is a link to their site for those interested:

https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/index.html


#18

I don’t currently have chickens. Have not for a few years. The hens are nice chickens it’s only the male white leghorns that are fighters. I had one LH rooster as a kid I bought from a preacher for 50 cents and he put a M in mean. He back flogged anyone he got a chance to including ducks , cats, dogs, other chickens, guineas. He really liked to get people hanging clothes on the line or gardening and not paying attention. Mean raccoon finally got him but the raccoon left a blood trail and did not eat his kill.


#19

Clark is right, if you want loads of white eggs, white leghorns. Around here it’s pronounced ‘legrn’ one syllable. We had 10 rare maran roosters for excellent meat. Waste, they had 4" of feathers and wouldn’t let go of them feathers, tasted like chicken too.
We get better prices for brown eggs than white eggs, but there is no differences.
Your wife takes care of those chickens remembering those roosters!!


#20

We tryed chickens this spring. Out of 15, 2 or 3 ended up being hens and they got picked off by predators. The roosters were annoying chasing the kids around all the time. I am not a big fan of eating chicken it is and it is cheap enough in the store. I do like eating duck and geese. I just picked up some Mascovy ducks. They are a very large breed, good layers and do well in confinement. I became interested in them because of Tim Hensley. https://youtu.be/UDoxASGxLsY